Career Success

When I mentor people, they often ask me for my thoughts about specific career choices they are considering. Invariably, the questions fall into two categories. 1) How do I succeed in a pre-structured career path (e.g., making partner in a consulting firm)? 2) How do I succeed in forging my own path that isn’t pre-structured [...]

I teach the people I mentor that leadership means accepting responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. The individual contributor that stays in that role for an entire career does what is asked, but no more. If something goes wrong, she says, “I didn’t make a mistake. You can’t blame me for that one. That’s [...]

The other day, a friend was praising me for my accomplishments. I felt the praise was not justified. Contrary to my friend’s perception, I attribute my success to two things: 1) the ability to learn from my mistakes; 2) a high pain tolerance (that’s needed to tolerate making a great many mistakes). Step back and [...]

The other day, my teenage daughter asked me to buy her false eyelashes. When I asked her why she wanted them, she said, “It’s for my school camping trip with my classmates.” Of course, I said, “Why in the world do you need fake eyelashes to go camping?!?” I don’t remember her answer. What I [...]

Most of my work involves either a corporate strategic plan or a personal strategic plan. The core of strategic planning centers around deciding on priorities and allocating resources to those priorities. A good strategic planning process is quite painful. It’s painful because resources are always constrained. This has been true in every strategic plan with which [...]

Most people who get an Ivy League MBA do so to get a coveted job at a consulting firm, investment bank, or in industry. They aspire to be a McKinsey partner, a Goldman Sachs partner, a startup CEO or a leader in industry. Many get an MBA to avoid the most “blue collar” of professional [...]

When I started my career, I was under the impression that in the workplace you always get what you deserve. I was naive and wrong. There are plenty of deserving people who never get the credit, promotion, or raises they deserve. Perhaps you can relate. Many years later, I realized the following truth: You don’t [...]

In school, success is simple. Do your homework. Study hard. Get good grades. The better your grades, the greater your success. The path to success is simple and clear. In the working world, the parameters of success are quite different. In school, the more you do, the more you succeed. In the business world, the [...]

Corporate politics has a negative connotation. You’ll often hear phrases like, “They’re being so political.” “I hate engaging in politics.” I used to have this perception as well. I changed my mind when I took a class on Power and Politics at the Stanford GSB. My professor made these simple declarative statements. Anytime there are [...]

The oddest thing has been happening to me over the last 10 years. One out of every three times I visit a healthcare provider, someone at the doctor’s office or hospital asks me if I’m a medical doctor. I’ve had emergency room physicians, triage nurses, physician assistants, and x-ray technicians all ask me the same [...]

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